Wildwood's population could triple with massive housing development

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WILDWOOD, Fla. - A massive housing development in Wildwood has sat abandoned for years, but now the developer has a new plan to start building.

On 4,000 acres of farm and forest land in Sumter County, one of the largest projects ever in the city of Wildwood is being revived.

"They stuck with us and we stuck with them, and they're live. They're real," said Wildwood Mayor Ed Wolf. "They're real folks and this could happen at any time."

Mayor Wolf has high hopes for what is currently known as Landstone, city-annexed property south of County Road 470 where the 8,000 homes would be built.

"Big changes are coming. The city of Wildwood currently has a population of around 7,000, but this new development alone would push it over 27,000," said Wolf.

The project was first pitched during the housing boom and promptly fizzled with the bust. But the same developers are back and ready to move, mostly because of the land's location.

"Wildwood is in a position to develop much like any other city in our area. Just because of the fact that we have this economic engine, The Villages, at our doorstep," said Jason McHugh, Wildwood city planner.

Parts of the city and the villages share a common border and the huge retirement community continues to spread out toward this property.

Plus, hundreds of potential home buyers could literally walk to work.

"You've got one of the largest federal prisons in the United States just across the road," said McHugh. "(The) people working there, some of them are driving 60 to 80 miles a day to go to work."

The mayor said this project and others on the burner will change the city in dramatic fashion, but also said there is no timetable yet for construction.

The city and the developer are working out arrangements for utilities.